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How to choose a bank

How to choose a bank

Banking / February 26, 2019

For all intents and purposes, choosing a bank may seem like an easy decision. But do you feel adequately informed about your banking options? The different types of banks? The importance of local banks?

Cornerstone Bank has served the Kansas City community for over 17 years. In that time, we’ve become a trusted banking partner for our clients. As a local bank, we are able to offer unparalleled customer service and answer all of the possible questions about the banking industry and what’s best for each individual and his or her family.

One of the top questions we get asked is what makes Cornerstone Bank different. Aside from our attention to customers and high interest rates, there are a few other differences between Cornerstone Bank and others.

There are actually over 5500 banks that operate in the United States. Knowing the type of institution you bank with can mean all the difference between your money working smarter and harder.

how to choose a bank - cornerstone bank kansas city

The different types of banks

Contrary to what many shoppers believe, there is actually a spectrum of different types of banks. These banks vary on what they provide and how they operate.

Once you understand the differences between the different types of banks, you’ll better understand how your banking experience may be affected, or even improved.

Community Banks

To give you additional context, Cornerstone Bank in Kansas City is considered a community bank. We offer checking accounts, savings accounts & cds, and loans. Our customers are either individual account owners or small business owners.

A community bank is led by a board of directors made up of local citizens. This makes a community bank more in tune with the local community. Customers work directly with officers at their bank.

Additionally, decisions on loans are made locally, so the approval process is faster than an approval committee at a larger bank.

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Commercial Banks

Commercial banks are what most just call “banks.” Commercial banks are financial institutions who accept deposits, cash checks, and offer checking and savings accounts to individual customers, as well as small businesses. Most commercial banks are FDIC insured and offer a wide range of services.

Industrial Banks

Industrial banks are considered incredibly safe to use, but offer a limited scope of products or services. Namely, industrial banks can sell “certificates” or investment shares, and also occasionally accept deposits.

Credit Unions

While many credit unions perform the same basic operations as a traditional bank, the main difference is that a credit union operates as a non-profit organization and must adhere to very strict regulations when it comes to commercial lending. Credit unions are also more likely to lend to someone with a shorter credit history (or bad credit) but at higher interest rates.

Savings Banks

Savings Banks are self-explanatory. The primary role of a savings bank is to provide savings accounts to its customers and pay interest on the money it secures. The downside to a savings bank is that they do not allow for more immediate transactions.

Central Banks

The central bank of the U.S. is called the Federal Reserve System. This entity regulates the distribution of money & credit across the country. It also creates policies for how other banks should behave and distribute money. While many of us will have no need to interact with a central bank, we all benefit from its consumer protection policies.

Online Banks

In recent years, online banks have begun amassing customers through its “no branch” system. Online banks provide some of the same services as a local branch of a bank, such as debit and credit card services, checking and savings accounts, and more, but without the overhead cost of operating an in-person location. If you’re all about convenience and would prefer to only conduct your business online and through call centers, an online bank may be perfect for you.

Where does Cornerstone Bank fit in?

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As previously mentioned, Cornerstone Bank is a community bank in Kansas City that offers a variety of banking services to our local community.

Opening a bank account is all but a necessity in today’s day and age of online transactions, direct deposit, and more.

But do you know why you personally need one, or which bank is best for your needs?

Answering these questions will help inform your decision on choosing the right bank for your needs, time, and budget.

Below are a few things to consider when debating where to open your bank account.

1. Money Habits

What are your current money habits? Are you a daily spender, or a monthly budgeter? Being fully aware of how you spend, and save, your money will help you keep an eye out during the “shopping” process and begin understanding how the different types of banks may be able to best serve your individual needs.


If you like to frequent multiple retail locations at once, you may want to find a bank with online banking capabilities. This will allow you to keep track of your funds on-the-go so you can accurately budget prevent yourself from overspending on your next outing. 

Eating Out

If you like to frequent restaurants, you may want to consider finding a bank that will provide extra incentives, like cash back, for engaging with your favorite brands. You’ll also want to ensure you have access to ATMs in your area in order to withdraw funds for tipping purposes.


Frequent travelers often find that certain banks are able to accommodate their exact needs more than others. Be sure to look for things like foreign transaction fees, ATM fees, and other charges or penalties for accessing your money abroad.

If you’d like to hear more banking travel tips, check out our recent post, How to Keep Your Money Safe While Traveling.


Do you need a bank that will effectively accommodate your needs while you or your child are away at college? Some banks offer accounts, products, and services specifically geared toward students. Maybe you’d like to link multiple accounts to transfer money or keep an eye on your student’s spending.

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2. Location

How important is location to banking? For some, this question may be irrelevant. Some younger generations are beginning to look for, and even prefer, online-only banking.

For the majority of us, however, it’s especially important to be able to visit your branch, speak with a banker or loan expert, and have a face-to-face interaction.

If you own a small business and/or think you may need a loan in the next 2-5 years, banking with a physical bank branch may be the best option for you. This will ensure you have immediate access to your banker and will be able to have an in-depth conversation about your options and rates with someone who already knows you.

3. Technology

Does the bank offer online banking? What about online deposits? Money transfers? Determine which banking services you’ll need on the go and prioritize these features in your shopping experience.

In case you were wondering, Cornerstone Bank offers online banking services for our customers’ convenience. (Stay tuned for a full, in-depth review of Cornerstone Bank’s technology!)

4. Types of accounts

What kind of bank account are you looking for? Checking, savings? Have you considered a CD or money market account? Knowing what kind of account you’re looking for, or at least what you’ll need an account for, is essential to having that first conversation with your new potential bank.

5. Fees, Interest Rates, and Loans

What kind of fees and interest rates do the banks offer? Make sure you are aware of the “fine print” that some banks choose to downplay or not mention at all.

At Cornerstone Bank, we don’t rely on our paperwork to do the talking. We are upfront about everything you need to know to make your money start working for you.

6. Customer Service

If customer service is not a contributing factor in your decision on choosing a bank, it should be. Customer service can mean the difference between trusting your bank to work for you and feeling unsure of why you bank there at all.

Our customer service is unmatched across our industry. If you’re looking for the best bank customer service in Kansas City, look no further than Cornerstone Bank.

7. Business Needs

If you own or plan to start a business in the near future, you may want to be aware of your potential bank’s business credit line option and any other policies or features that may affect your future business.

Learn more.

Get started on your local banking experience today and see for yourself how Cornerstone Bank makes choosing a Kansas City bank easy for you.

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